Tuesday 15th June 2021

One of my first memories of visiting Washford was during the school holidays in about 1990. My dad took me for a trip on the West Somerset Railway and we alighted the train at Washford station. After having lunch in the Inn we took the short walk to Cleeve Abbey.  The BBC were in the process of filming their popular children’s TV show staring Tony Robinson “Maid Marian and her Merry Men” at the Abbey and I recall watching the filming with great interest. Afterwards we returned to the station and spent an enjoyable hour or so looking around the museum and yard with the rather knowledgeable and pleasant museum guide imparting the stories and legends of the S and D before boarding the return train. I know this is what sparked my lifelong interest in the line.

Over the last two blogs I have already mentioned some of the modern day “Merry Men of Washford” and I want to highlight a few more this week. Temperatures reached 28 degrees Celsius in Washford this Tuesday with the sun beaming down on the site. The need to find constant shade to keep cool was ever present. Despite lots of sun tan lotion by the end of the day I’m not sure if the glow from myself or my orange high viz was brighter! However, the Tuesday gang were as dedicated as ever.

Washford – Station Side

Whilst many of the museum items, platform benches and signs have been removed from this side of the site we continue to look after the area and two regular volunteers dedicate their time to caring for the station land.

The recent hot weather has led to many weeds growing out of control despite the continued attentions of Ron and his weedkiller! More was added this week in an attempt to bring them under control and the larger weeds on the platform were removed by hand. 

For those that drive past Washford on a Tuesday you are likely to see Ray with a lawn mower in hand, happy at work looking after the grass on the station platform and land adjoining the road. In this week’s heat he experienced several issues with the lawn mower and had to resort to using a strimmer to finish the job. 

Ray resorts to using the strimmer to finish the job!
Washford Platform having already received attention from Ray and Ron

Too hot in the Paint Shop

I have previously mentioned that we are in the process of repairing, restoring, and repainting the items of signalling equipment that we have taken down across the site. Up until this week Dennis “the paint man” has been hiding away in the paint shop undertaking this task. The glorious weather has brought him outside this week and I finally managed to capture him at work alongside Ron who had joined him following his weed killing duties. The long line of signal items awaiting fresh paint is ever growing however this doesn’t seem to faze these gentlemen who are always smiling.

Dennis and Ron tackle some of the long line of signalling items needing painting

Washford Signal Box – Floor Replacement

Over in the “Hot” Box the two Marks have been progressing making the hole left by the Midford Box lever frame safe. Rather than just filling the hole left it has been decided to completely replace the floor within the box. Pictured below is it in its almost complete form. Another few hours effort and it will be completed.

Washford Signal Box Floor replacement continuing

Clearing up the Yard

In probably what was not my best move because of the hot weather I had a skip delivered to help clear the large and untidy pile of waste from the rear of the yard. Mel worked quickly to fit as much into the skip as possible and by lunchtime it was full, and we were finally beginning to feel like progress was being made. As the afternoon progressed, Mel, Myself and Andy continued to tidy the area using the sleeper piles to create some segregated waste pens to not only keep the yard tidy but help us ensure we properly sort items in the future. If I heard a joke from one of the Tuesday gang about “when is the coal delivery?” once I heard it a thousand times!

The Yard Before
The Yard after with segregated waste pens

Progressing the Future – Avon Valley Railway

For me the day was not finished once I left Washford. Arriving home, I had enough time to grab a bite to eat before joining a Zoom call with Ian our chairman and members of the Avon Valley Railway. A very productive call and good progress is being made on planning the museum displays that will go on show here. With site visits planned over the coming weeks I’m hoping to be able to bring more info soon. Watch this space!

As I hope you can see, the “Merry Men of Washford” are all happy at work and are kept very busy. All their time is given voluntarily, and we are always on the lookout for more people to help us out either on site at Washford or remotely with some admin roles. Also as we progress with our new partners we are actively seeking people who may like to be involved on site at both the Mid Hants or Avon Valley Railway with the museum set up and running. Several members have already stepped forward and I am keen to see a few more. Please do take a look at the details of how to volunteer here: https://www.sdrt.org/volunteering/

Don’t forget the Progressing our Future appeal. The appeal is vital to support us moving forward and to ensure we are able to continue to preserve what has been built up over 50 years. Please consider giving what you can. Details can be found here: https://www.sdrt.org/appeal-for-the-future-of-the-trust/

Chris Ruddick, Projects Director